General, Marketing with Mansfield

What’s the plan? Where do you want your marketing to take you for 2021?

Happy New Year! What are you most looking forward to – marketing-wise for 2021?

It’s been a TOUGH year but the beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the results of last year’s marketing plan and to consider what changes you’re going to want to implement for 2021.

I’m willing to bet that your 2020 marketing plan took a back seat to some of your other business-related plans. Not to worry. It’s a brand new year, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and we can take what we learned last year and start making a new plan.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

The keys are flexibility, adaptability, trend-spotting, and commitment – and a map. If we’re going to get where we want to go then we need a map.

Begin with the end

Oftentimes when it comes to a marketing plan some people don’t start with the final destination, where they want to be by December, in mind. Instead they start heading off “down the road” – destination to be determined.

I spent the weekend of March 7-8, 2020, at the Travel & Adventure Show in Washington, D.C. It is a convention for people who, obviously, like to travel but it also includes sessions for people who like learning about how miles and points can enhance their travel experience. It was perfect timing because all my travel and loyalty program calculators had reset to zero at the end of 2019 (just the calculators, not the accumulated points or miles). This is important because in order for me to achieve my travel-related goals for 2020 and beyond, I needed to know by the end of the year how to structure my travel plans.

Well, 2020 was a bust as far as business or leisure travel so whatever miles and points plan I had originally made based on traveling 10 out of 12 months a year was pretty much useless. (Same thing could be said for the face to face education-based marketing and in-person meeting & event marketing plans!)

If my original goal was to acquire a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass in 2020 so that I could bring a companion along for free in 2020 and 2021, then I would have needed to determine what strategy I would use to acquire the 110,000 Rapid Rewards points I needed to receive the pass. The final destination – 110,000 points. I could keep the same goal but I’d really need to re-think my strategy since it would’ve been really difficult to accumulate 110,000 without stepping foot on a plane, renting a car or staying in hotels or having a reason to use my Southwest Visa card. Probably wouldn’t have been impossible but, it made sense in March to take that “destination” off the map for 2020.

Know your starting point

A lot of things in the travel industry have changed since last March. Airlines have been hit hard and they’ve adapted and pivoted so what seemed like a very difficult destination last March might not be so difficult this year. You might think that there is only one route to get there – not true. Route 1 equals flying. Route 2 equals a mixture of flying and buying things through the Southwest Airlines online shopping portal. Route 3 equals getting a Southwest credit card that will give me 50,000 points after I spend a certain amount in a certain time frame, plus flying, plus shopping. Those are just three examples but there are a plethora of routes. Some that will take me all year to get there. Some that will take me a matter of months. Some that will be cost prohibitive and some that will be relatively inexpensive. The two things that I know for sure are where I am right now and where I want to go.

Know your route options

For example, you know that you have 27 newsletter subscribers as of today but that you want 2,499 subscribers by the end of the year which route are you going to take? Just like getting the Companion Pass, there are a lot of different routes with different time frames and different cost.

In our newsletter subscriber example, we have a clear goal of acquiring 2,472 new subscribers. We want to make sure that all of our new subscribers are people who are relevant to the success of our business and not just route “detours” for the sake of pumping up the numbers.

How can you get there? Which routes?

http://www.cecpo.com/

Sign up form on your website (of course!)

Sign up form on your business facebook page

Incentives in your office waiting room or fitting rooms for signing up

Those are just a couple “routes” for you to take.

Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? We’ll talk more about tools and budgets in the next post….

General, Marketing with Mansfield

Get Your ‘Gram On!

Instagram can be a tool to build brand awareness in O&P.   
Instagram is (STILL) an underutilized marketing tool in orthotics and prosthetics. There, I said it. This morning, I logged in and searched “#prosthetics.” What came up? All kinds of cool – prosthetic makeup photos and animal prostheses. Unless there are a lot of zombie prosthetists, most photos with the hashtag “prosthetics,” are posted by people who create goiters or elf ears.

#prosthetics

Uses
Why is Instagram so great? Or a better question, why is Instagram so popular? The top reasons are that it is fast, free, easy and visual. Let’s take a look.

Fast: It takes about 10 seconds to snap a photo and upload it to Instagram.
Free: That is self-explanatory.
Easy: See “Fast.” Also, anyone can do it. It is not overly complicated. It. Is. Simple. It does not require the effort of Facebook. It does not even require you to have a smart phone. If you want an Instagram account but do not have a smart phone or tablet, you can create an account on your desktop or laptop where you can view, follow or like photos without using a phone.
Visual: It is all about the pictures – and short videos, too. But mostly about pictures.

What’s your plan? You’re going to want to create a lot of content beforehand so that you make your ‘gramming even easier.

“Say cheese!”

Instagram Post Types You Should Know

Single-image posts: self-explanatory, right?

Carousel posts: Multiple images (up to 10). Viewers can scroll from left to right to view each photo in the post.

Video posts: Appear in your profile grid and are shared in your feed. They must be less than 60 seconds long.

Video carousels: An easy way to get past the 60 second video time limit. If you have three minutes of video content you can break it into three one minute videos, then post a video carousel to showcase all three videos. Viewers scroll through the videos just like with carousel photos.

Boomerang: A short, looping video created in the Boomerang app. Boomerangs are created by taking a burst of photos and using them to create a video that loops in the main feed.

Ready, Set, Get Gramming!

If you’re on instagram, let me know so I can follow you!

General, Marketing with Mansfield

Time to “Fall Forward” and Freshen Up!

Summer is over.

“Back in the day” (aka last year) this is the time of year that I would avoid Staples, Walmart, Office Depot and Target at all costs. That’s because it was back to school time and because everyone needed new items for school. A+B=insane, Black Friday-esque, crowded stores.

You can’t take notes in an old, used-up notebook. The locker might not even be the same size as last year so you couldn’t use the same old stuff. Your markers were probably dried out. You needed new binders. But you wanted to make sure you went through old school supplies first. Maybe there were a couple markers you never used. There was probably a mirror or a locker shelf you could’ve used again.

The outlet mall was just as bad if not worse. You needed new clothes for back to school. New dress code or you might have grown or old clothes were just plain worn out. If you needed new clothes, then you probably needed new shoes for all the same reasons. It would have been silly, however, to have gotten rid of everything and just gotten all new clothes and shoes. It would’ve been a good idea to try everything on so you could’ve decided what to keep and what to toss.

Freshen up

What can we learn from this back in the day, back to school frenzy?

Clearing out, cleaning up and freshening up your resources are exactly what you should be doing with your marketing materials!

By marketing materials, I mean your online materials, digital tools and social media marketing platforms.While you’re at it, you might as well take a gander at your print materials, too.

As far as brochures and other print materials go, you want to make sure the information contained is up to date and accurate.

Make a to do list!

Have you changed your logo?

Did the area code change?

Are the people listed still employed?

Have you added people?

What about your services?

Sometimes when I am working on a customer’s email newsletter, I will send a draft to the client and I receive an email in return that reads “We haven’t done mastectomy since 1998. Can you take that off the list of services?” Of course I can, but guess what, I got the list of services from the website so you should probably update it there, too.

Update online resources

It is easier to go “back to school” on your online materials and digital tools, but it still takes time and energy to keep these updated. Here is a tip. When you are putting together your website, Facebook page, instagram, LinkedIn or other online portal, don’t use a photo of your entire staff. Rather, use photos of individual people. It is a nice touch to have pictures and bios on a website, but there are many O&P websites with photos that include people who no longer work there. It is tough enough to get photos of individuals, try taking a new whole staff photo every time you add or subtract staff!

Do all the links still work on your website?

Do the contact us forms work?

Test all the actionable content on every page.

Check every link.

If you have a “click here to email us” button, then make sure users can actually send an email by using that button AND make sure the person who is supposed to receive it is still receiving it.

The end of the year is fast approaching. Why wait until the holidays to go “back to school” on your marketing materials? Do it now.

Need help? elizabeth@cecpo.com

General, Marketing with Mansfield

It’s the little things…right, Cher?

As Sonny and Cher used to sing, It’s the little things.”

Why are the little things such an integral part of your overall marketing effort? People don’t look for reasons to do business with you. They look for reasons NOT to do business with you. And, they’ll do that faster than you read this sentence.

Every SINGLE Point of Contact with our patients, clients and potential employees makes an impression. And first impressions COUNT.

Each impression—good or bad—helps someone decide in a heartbeat if you’re worthy of their time and money. People do business with people they like and trust. First impressions set the tone.

Secret Shop Your Business!

Take a step back

Don’t think that first impressions matter?

Google “secret shopper.”

Everything from the U.S. Army to Walmart uses “secret shopper” or “mystery shopper” programs to provide feedback to their employees and to improve customer satisfaction.

But, to see for yourself, step out of your owner or employer shoes and into your patients’ shoes to conduct your own “secret shopper” test.

Office attitudes

“Shop” your employees. Your receptionist. What do people hear when calling your office? Someone who is positive and helpful? Or, are they greeted by a tone that says, “You’re bothering me. Call someone who cares.”?

“Shop” your technicians or assistants. Does their attitude say they’d rather not repair or adjust devices? Are they rude? Sarcastic? Does their response make patients wish someone else was providing the care?

DEFINITELY “Shop” your accounts receivable. Do your billing clerks listen, or are they always in an aggressive, “You owe us money” mode? Would you do business with your vendors if they had your bookkeeping staff?

From the top down

Management also leaves an impression. Your employees watch how you treat patients and customers and are likely to treat them the same way.

Remember, your practitioners make more of an impression on your patients than anyone in your company. What are your patients’ perceptions of your clinical staff?

Is your staff knowledgeable?
Are they on time for appointments?
Do they follow up and return calls?
Do they dress appropriately?

BE AWARE that you’re making an impression when someone sitting in your waiting room watches the interaction between you and your employees or listens to how someone answers the phone.

Many other potential first impressions are within management’s control: business cards, letterhead, misspellings and poor grammar in emails, on your website, in your social media platforms.

Use your six senses

“Shop” your office, fitting rooms, patient waiting areas and furniture, too.

To test yourself, “secret shop” your own facility one morning before your first patient arrives. Turn on the lights, put on the music, then turn around and walk back outside.

Look around you.

Are the windows clean?

Do the doors need to be painted?

Are the entrances handicap-accessible? Or, are the doors too heavy for someone to open with one hand?

Is there a lip that wheelchairs might get caught on or an awkward turn once you’re inside?

Walk through the front door.

What is the first thing you see? A table half filled with old magazines or brochures? The lights are on, but are the rooms still dark?

Look up.

Are the ceiling tiles stained or dusty? Are there burned out bulbs or dead insects in the lights?

Look down.

Is the carpet clean? Does the overall appearance look old or freshly painted and designed? Does the office look inviting?

Don’t forget your other senses as well. What do you SMELL and hear?

If music is playing, is it too loud or too soft, and is it acceptable to all ages? Do you hear any distracting noises? Can you hear the grinder or the vacuum system?

How does the office smell? Is there an odor of epoxy, resins or burning plastic? Does the plaster trap need to be cleaned?

Finally, walk slowly through your facility and try to imagine that you are seeing it for the first time. What needs to be improved?

Want to earn your Mystery Shopper Merit Badge??

Go through in a wheelchair and see everything from wheelchair eye level. You’ll be amazed and surprised at the things you’ve overlooked.

Make the time

If you are wearing many hats in your business, you will only be able to see the details when you make it your focus.

It’s important to have another person “secret shop.” Get perspectives from different people.

Remember, you always have the opportunity to use first impressions to impress.

General, Marketing with Mansfield

(Now, more than ever!) Why you really need an email newsletter!

Eintouchmail marketing is the most cost-effective and quantifiable way to market your company’s products and services. If used correctly and effectively, permission-based email marketing can easily become your number one customer acquisition and retention tool. Here are five great reasons why patient care facilities should send an email newsletter.

Budget friendly

What exactly does that mean? You have a newsletter subscription list of 500 people and you want to mail them on a monthly or weekly basis. What is that going to cost you? Postage alone will cost you over $200.00 (at least!)

Email newsletter services can charge around $25 a month to maintain a list of up to 500 subscribers.

The intended recipient IS the intended recipient

You send an email to an individual. Period. There is nothing (except maybe a spam filter) to get in the way of your communication.

When you send out a direct mail piece, you cannot guarantee that it will end up in the hands of the person you sent it to.  You just can’t.

Analytics

THIS. This should be the one and only reason for using an email newsletter versus any other type of marketing technique (but some people need more than one reason…)

With an email newsletter, you can tell:

  • When someone opens the email
  • What links they clicked on
  • How many times they have opened the e-mail, and
  • Who has not received the newsletter with the bounce report.

You will never get that kind of data from any mailing you have ever done. You can’t. It is impossible.

Sharing the first open-rate and click-through-rate reports with a new email newsletter customer is so much fun. They are always amazed. Oftentimes they have never seen anything like it. Measurable results are a beautiful thing to anyone even remotely interested in their ROI. In this mixed up, crazy time who doesn’t want to see exactly what they are getting for their money!

Build that pipeline!

Your email newsletter keeps you at the top of your prospective customers/clients/patients minds until they are ready to buy. If someone shows an interest in what product or service you are providing – by replying to the email newsletter or clicking on a link, you can follow up immediately. An email newsletter lets you communicate regularly with your target markets on a consistent and regular basis – share your expertise, customer testimonials, specials and information products.

With each issue that goes out you are establishing credibility, reinforcing familiarity and creating a relationship. People like to do business with those that they know, like and trust. What better way to get someone to “know” you than to communicate with them on a regular and personal level.

Stay in touch with your loyal customers

Everyone knows the statistics on the cost of getting new customers versus keeping existing customers. It costs 8 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer.

In O&P patient care, the patients you have to worry about losing are the “easy” ones. The ones you fit successfully without a whole lot of trouble. They did not have any real issues you had to contend with – no big problems to solve. They go home, go about their daily lives and then all of a sudden someone else comes along, does a better job of marketing to them and they are gone!

What happened?

Did you know? When customers have a problem and you fix it, they are actually going to be even more satisfied than if they never had a problem in the first place. True.

Communicating regularly with your existing customers shows that you care about them and want to continue to improve your relationship with them. You want to show them what is new in orthotics or prosthetics. What they need to know about – whether it is reimbursement related or new technology.

Here’s a true story of how an email newsletter could have benefited Ms. CPO who shared this story with me several years ago.

“A prosthetic patient, Sammy, came in to say goodbye and thank me for my years of care. He was going to XYZ O&P because he had received a mailing from XYZ highlighting a fancy new type of limb covering.   I convinced Sammy to stay by explaining that any prosthetist, nationwide, has access to that particular product and that he didn’t need to go to XYZ but could continue receiving care from me.”

In relating the story to me, she was furious. “How could he do that to me? I have taken care of him for years!” she ranted. “Why doesn’t he know that we (practitioners) can all buy the same parts?! That I can get him the same covering?!!”

My answer?

“Sammy did you a favor. He could have just left and not said anything at all and you never would have had the opportunity to win him back. When was the last time you let your patients know what products and services, especially the newsworthy ones, you provide?”

An email newsletter makes it so easy for you to keep your existing customers updated on all the new products and services you provide. It also provides an opportunity for you to remind them of all your other products and services. Do they think you are just the “AFO guy” because that is how they know you? They may have no idea that you provide prostheses or custom knee orthoses.

Tell them.

It can make the difference between keeping a patient and having them head down the street or across town for that “new” patient experience!

Questions? Stories? Need help with YOUR email newsletter?

Email me. Elizabeth-at-cecpo.com